Eila, Ada, and Walter Rauma on the occasion of Ada’s 40th birthday. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives P03869/Special to The News)

Eila, Ada, and Walter Rauma on the occasion of Ada’s 40th birthday. (Maple Ridge Museum & Archives P03869/Special to The News)

LOOKING BACK: A family’s journey from Finland via Toronto

Maple Ridge Museum curator shares story of Raumas, who settled in Webster’s Corners

By Melissa Rollit/Special to The News

Each of Maple Ridge’s neighbourhoods comes with its own unique history and Webster’s Corners is no different.

Part of what makes this neighbourhood so unique is the local Finnish community.

The first Finnish people arrived in Webster’s Corners in 1904 and 1905.

These early settlers came from a Finnish commune on Malcolm Island, located off the northern coast of Vancouver Island.

Once they arrived, a new commune was founded that became prosperous through farming and shingle bolt work.

Through the years, many more Finnish families moved to the area. Although the commune disbanded in 1913, they remained a tight knit group that continued to work cooperatively, developing into an established community.

One of the latecomers to the Finnish community was Walter Rauma, who immigrated to Canada in 1926.

He was 19 years old at the time. While in Webster’s Corners, he found work logging in Webster’s Corners and Pitt Lake, farming in Albion, and working at the Hammond Mill.

However, during the Great Depression, Walter moved to Toronto in search of work, finding a job as a butler. It was there that he would meet his wife, Ada.

Ada Piikki was born in a remote village in Finland, in the region known as lake country.

Under their stern father’s watch, her and her nine siblings were set to work around the house and in the fields from a young age, sometimes working until 3 a.m. in the summer when the sun rarely set. Education was not mandatory in those days and so only two of her siblings received a formal education. Ada and her sisters were trained in cooking, sewing, spinning, and weaving, and Ada was well known for her skill with a needle.

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Ada had an adventurous spirit, and so in 1930 she decided to immigrate to Toronto.

Although she had some savings from her sewing, Ada needed a loan from her sister Lyddi so she could afford the fare. Her father would not have approved, so she made her plans in secret and, in fact, did not inform her parents of her plans until the day before departure long after the arrangements had been made.

Ada and Walter met by chance at a post office in Toronto, and after a whirlwind courtship were married in March 1932.

Later that year, Ada gave birth to their daughter Eila. They lived in Toronto until 1937, when they moved back to Webster’s Corners.

One of the few items that Ada brought with her to Canada was a traditional folk costume.

Ada bought the dress in the 1920s at the Kuopio market. The colourful folk costume, made out of wool, was passed down to her daughter, Eila, and then to her two daughters Lorie and Victoria.

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The dress is now a treasured part of the Maple Ridge Museum’s collection and is currently available to view during open hours.


– Melissa Rollit is the curator of the Maple Ridge Museum & Community Archives


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